Coalition of Ontario unions launch charter challenge against Ford government

New campaign demanding repeal of Bill 124

Coalition of Ontario unions launch charter challenge against Ford government

Ten Ontario unions, representing more than 250,000 broader public sector employees, announced their intention to launch a coordinated charter challenge against Bill 124 on Dec. 17.

In addition, the unions will be initiating a campaign to have Bill 124 repealed, which passed into law earlier this year by the Ontario government.

They claim the new law violates the Charter of Rights and Freedom’s protected right to free and fair collective bargaining.

“The workers of this province, represented by their unions, will not allow Bill 124, which erodes the charter rights of every worker in Ontario, to stand uncontested,” says Patty Coates, Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) president. “Together, we are launching an aggressive campaign to demand the (Doug) Ford Conservatives repeal this unconstitutional legislation.”

Bill 124 is also meant to ensure that increases in public sector compensation “reflect the fiscal situation of the province, are consistent with the principles of responsible fiscal management and protect the sustainability of public services,” says the government.

The act establishes different three-year moderation periods for represented and non-represented employees:

“During the applicable moderation period, salary increases are limited to one per cent for each 12-month period of the moderation period. During the applicable moderation period, incremental increases to existing compensation entitlements and new compensation entitlements, including salary increases, are also limited to a total of one per cent on average for all employees subject to the moderation period, for each 12-month period of the moderation period. Certain exceptions are provided for.”

“This challenge is about defending workers’ rights protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” says Fred Hahn, CUPE Ontario president. “When the Ford Conservatives demand that we must all do our part, instead of targeting working people the government should be taxing profitable corporations and the wealthiest in our communities.”

Workers affected by Bill 124 include those employed by the provincial government, crown agencies, school boards, universities and colleges, hospitals, non-profit long-term care homes, children’s aid societies, social service agencies and the electricity and energy sectors.

The joint challenge is being brought by a coalition of unions that includes: the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE); the Service Employees International Union (SEIU Healthcare); the United Steelworkers (USW); the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC); the Society of United Professionals (IFPTE) Local 160; the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union (COPE Ontario); AMAPCEO (Ontario’s Professional Employees); the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW); the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC); and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 175.

Additional unions and organizations representing public sector workers in Ontario are expected to join this coordinated challenge or pursue their own separate legal challenges to Bill 124 in the coming weeks, says CUPE.

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